Title: Around the World in Eighty Days
Author: Jules Verne
Genre: fiction (classic)
Length: 276 pages
Year Published: 1873
Source: personal collection
Challenges/Resolutions: Personal Collection Resolution; Victorian Literature Challenge; Years of Books Goal
Reason for Reading: Yesterday I was just Googling when I noticed that the Google sign was different, as they are very often. But I looked to see what it was in remembrance of, since they’re usually only different for holidays or famous birthdays. And, apparently, yesterday was Jules Verne’s 183rd birthday 🙂 I’ve been meaning to read this book, but it was being pushed back because I had books for discussion or books due back at the library and I didn’t get around to it. So I used Jules Verne’s birthday as my major reason for reading it 😀
Jules Verne’s career as a novelist began in 1863, when he struck a new vein in fiction-stories that combined popular science and exploration. In Around the World in Eighty Days, Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days, and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant, Passepartout. Traveling by train, steamship, sailboat, sledge, and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks, and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard to win the extraordinary wager. Combining exploration, adventure, and a thrilling race against time, Around the World in Eighty Days gripped audiences upon its publication and remains hugely popular to this day.
My Thoughts: I think this story started off a bit slow because of the nature of Phileas Fogg. Even the first little bits about the journey around the world were a little boring. It wasn’t until after they arrived in India that it started to really pick up. I was thinking, “This could turn out to be the most boring trip around the world ever!” But, if you can make it past the first 10 chapters (which is about a fifth of the book), it gets so exciting!! Between Fogg and Passepartout, drama ensues–even if the former hardly emotionally registers any drama or excitement.
I think I like the adventure in India the best–what a rescue! Although the mishap in shipping from Hong Kong to Yokohama was pretty funny, especially with what happened to Passepartout. And the train ride across the US was fairly gripping. In a way, this book resounded with Around the World with Auntie Mame that I read last year. Even though Phileas and Mame are as different as night and day…
Passepartout found himself at first in an absolutely European city, with its low front houses, ornamented with verandas, under which showed elegant peristyles, and which covered with its streets, its squares, its docks, its warehouses, the entire space comprised between “Treaty Promontory” and the river. There, as at Hong-Kong, and as at calcutta, there was a confused swarm of people of all races, Americans, English, Chinese, Dutch…” (p157)
I particularly found this quote interesting. Passepartout is in Yokohama (Japan), a place where the British Empire hadn’t spread. But there was still a very European influence in part of the city. Which made me think…Is it really traveling if you go to a place exactly like home that’s in a foreign country? Especially during the time period of the book (1872) when customs and parts of cultures weren’t so widespread as they are today? True, right after this quote, Passepartout ends up going to the “native” area of the city. I think, if and when I ever have the chance to travel, I’m going to try to stick to the policy of not-doing-something-you-could-do-at-home 🙂 (I can’t wait to go whale-watching in Alaska in a couple months!! Don’t get that in my land-locked state.) But I won’t give up tourist-y things completely, of course. Certain things must be seen.
A minimum well employed suffices for everything. (p19)